Sales Is All About Stories

Did you ever have one of those “Aha” moments? Seems like I’ve been having several of them lately. The latest one happened last night. I was asked by a friend to talk to her class of entrepreneuers on the subject of sales. There was also a gentleman there who talked about marketing.

The “Aha” came as Jeff described his definition of marketing. It wasn’t necessarily all about glossy collateral material and marketing strategies. Jeff positioned marketing as a “story”. Using his words along with some liberal paraphrasing from me marketing is now about value-added, quality, uniqueness, standing apart (from competitors), memorable and a host of other words. As he spoke I realized that this has a lot to do with sales. (Doesn’t everything?)

Here’s my delicious spin on stories and sales. Shouldn’t sales and a sales call be much like a story? You’ve read enough of my posts to know that I detest “pitching” a product or presenting features and benefits. Sales is a dialogue between two people that covers one person’s potential needs and another person’s potential solutions. So, the dialogue from the salesperson’s side might include phrases like:

  1. Tell me more about that.
  2. I’ve heard other clients of mine say the same thing.
  3. That’s interesting. What impact does that have on you?
  4. Has that been a problem for a long time?
  5. That has to have an effect on your sales.

I’m going to make up a Schaber-ism and call these dialogue enhancing statements and questions? These kinds of phrases bring out more information from the prospect but not in a way that triggers the salesperson to trip over his or her tongue trying to close. These comments are part of the volley and serve of sales. They lend some dignity to the buy/sell process. They are information exchange words. They are part of a story that includes two people discussing mutual ways they might help each other.

OK, are these the ravings of an old codger who is slobbering his way to antiquity? You best believe not! Every good salesperson continually morphs into new selling styles, partly due to maturity, partly due to changing times and partly due to old styles not working. The more you stay the same the quicker you’ll go the way of the dinosaur! Everyone and I mean everyone loves a good story. There is symbolism, lessons to be learned and wisdom to unfold in a good story. And guess what-people (translate that to mean prospects) are more engaged with stories.

Do this. On your next three sales calls make an effort to “storyize” the dialogue and let me know what happens.

The Final Thought: It all goes back, of course, to Adam and Eve -a story which shows among other things, that if you make a woman out of a man, you are bound to get into trouble

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